On the Power Law for Describing the Mass Distribution of Fragments of a Disrupted Cosmic Body

I. G. Brykina & L. A. Egorova

Solar System Research; Volume 56, pages 338–350
Published: 12 September 2022


“An important characteristic of the disruption of cosmic bodies (asteroids at their collision in outer space, meteoroids and asteroids entering the Earth’s atmosphere) is the mass distribution of their fragments. The cumulative mass distribution of fragments, obtained using the power law for mass distribution in differential form, depends on the dimensionless fragment mass normalized to the total mass (body mass before destruction), on the mass fraction of the largest fragment and on the power index. The distribution gives a nonlinear dependence of the cumulative number of fragments on the mass in logarithmic coordinates, in contrast to the linear dependence used in the literature. The formula for the cumulative number of fragments is tested by comparison with the results of impact experiments performed to model the fragmentation of asteroids at the collision in outer space. The comparison is carried out for bodies of different shapes, masses and compositions, with different strengths, in a wide range of impact velocities. The values of the power index, which is a free parameter adjusted for the best fit of the theoretical distribution to the empirical one, are estimated. The applicability of the power law fragment mass distribution to the description of experimental results for various types of destruction is discussed.”